In Contemplation of Death Law and Legal Definition

In contemplation of death is a term used to refer to certain transfers made under the belief of the giver that he/she is about to die or has a terminal illness. If the giver later recovers, the gift may be revoked. Gifts in contemplation of death may trigger an estate tax liability.

The following is an example of a statute involving a transfer in contemplation of death:

"To the extent of any interest therein of which the decedent has at any time made a transfer, or with respect to which he has at any time created a trust, in contemplation of or intended to take effect in possession or enjoyment at or after his death (whether such transfer or trust is made or created before or after the passage of this act), except in case of a bona fide sale for a fair consideration in money or money's worth. Any transfer of a material part of his property in the nature of a final disposition or distribution thereof, made by the decedent within two years prior to his death without such a consideration, shall, unless shown to the contrary, be deemed to have been made in contemplation of death within the meaning of this title. ..."

A transfer in contemplation of death is also referred to as a gift causa mortis.